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Singularity/Apptainer containers

We support Singularity/Apptainer containers as an alternative way to bring your scientific application to LUMI instead of installing it using EasyBuild or Spack.

If you are familiar with Docker containers, Singularity/Apptainer containers are essentially the same thing, but are better suited for multi-user HPC systems such as LUMI. The main benefit of using a container is that it provides an isolated software environment for each application, which makes it easier to install complex applications.

This page provides guidance on preparing your Singularity/Apptainer containers for use with LUMI. Please consult the container jobs page for guidance on running your container on LUMI.


There are two major providers of the singularity runtime, namely Singularity CE and Apptainer, with the latter being a fork of the former. For most cases these should be fully compatible.

Building containers for LUMI

Building containers on LUMI is, unfortunately, not an option; The singularity build command requires some level of root privileges, e.g. sudo or fakeroot, which are disabled on LUMI for security reasons. Thus, in order to prepare a Singularity/Apptainer container for LUMI, you have two options:

  1. Pull an existing container image (Singularity or Docker) from a registry.
  2. Build your own container on your local hardware, e.g. your laptop.

Pulling container images from a registry

Singularity allows pulling images (Singularity or Docker) from container registries such as DockerHub or AMD Infinity Hub. Pulling container images from registries can be done on LUMI. For instance, the Ubuntu image ubuntu:22.04 can be pulled from DockerHub with the following command:

$ singularity pull docker://ubuntu:22.04

This will create the Singularity image file ubuntu_22.04.sif in the directory where the command was run. Once the image has been pulled, the container can be run. Instructions for running the container may be found on the container jobs page.


Please take care to only use images uploaded from reputable sources as these images can easily be a source of security vulnerabilities or even contain malicious code.


The compute nodes are currently not connected to the internet. As a consequence, the container images need to be pulled in on the login nodes (or transferred to LUMI).


When pulling docker containers using singularity, the conversion can be quite heavy. Speed up the conversion and avoid leaving behind temporary files by using the in-memory filesystem on /tmp as the Singularity cache directory, i.e.

$ mkdir -p /tmp/$USER

Building LUMI MPI compatible containers

Here we provide an example of building a container that is compatible with the MPI stack on LUMI.


For MPI-enabled containers, the application inside the container must be dynamically linked to an MPI version that is ABI-compatible with the host MPI.

The following Singularity definition file mpi_osu.def, installs MPICH-3.1.4, which is ABI-compatible with the Cray-MPICH found on LUMI. That MPICH will be used to compile the OSU microbenchmarks. Finally, the OSU point to point bandwidth test is set as the runscript of the image.

bootstrap: docker
from: ubuntu:21.04

    # Install software
    apt-get update
    apt-get install -y file g++ gcc gfortran make gdb strace wget ca-certificates --no-install-recommends

    # Install mpich
    wget -q
    tar xf mpich-3.1.4.tar.gz
    cd mpich-3.1.4
    ./configure --disable-fortran --enable-fast=all,O3 --prefix=/usr
    make -j$(nproc)
    make install

    # Build osu benchmarks
    wget -q
    tar xf osu-micro-benchmarks-5.3.2.tar.gz
    cd osu-micro-benchmarks-5.3.2
    ./configure --prefix=/usr/local CC=$(which mpicc) CFLAGS=-O3
    make install
    cd ..
    rm -rf osu-micro-benchmarks-5.3.2
    rm osu-micro-benchmarks-5.3.2.tar.gz


The image can be built on your local hardware (not LUMI) with

$ sudo singularity build mpi_osu.sif mpi_osu.def

The mpi_osu.sif file must then be transferred to LUMI. See the container jobs MPI documentation page for instructions on running this MPI container on LUMI.